Can $120,000,000 buy you small? David 24 Jan 2006

56 comments Latest by Ash Buckles

The Register reports that Microsoft is in the process of blowing $120,000,000 on advertising to convince local markets around the world that they’re really not the big behemoth they’re perceived to be. Or as Mike Lucero from Microsoft says it: “We are often perceived as a huge American company”.

Missing a camera in front of which to make a Jon Stewart-shocked face and the audio to do a convincing “reeeeeeeaaaaallly?”, please do exercise your imagination to simulate me having that reaction. Then come up with various jokes about Microsoft, $120,000,000 blown on advertising, and the notion of being small.

56 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Garrett Dimon 24 Jan 06

Sounds like somebody needs to send them a few copies of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Alan 24 Jan 06

Well they’ve got me convinced.

After all, it’s only $120,000,000; an ordinary marketing budget. An ordinary company. Yup. Nothing out of the ordinadry there as far as I can see.

“Can you loosen my straight jacket a little? I need to reach over to that icon there so I can send a mail to the new Canadian conservative government saying how pleased I am the’re in and the Liberals are out, so plea!!!WATCH OUT HERE COME THE SQUEEKING PLANTS!!!”
and I fall back to beautiful sleep in my nice soft room.

Matt Pennig 24 Jan 06

Irony this good just can’t be made up. I love it!

DaleV 24 Jan 06

MS is more irrelevant with every passing day. Back to more interesting topics, please.

Noah Winecoff 24 Jan 06

They could buy me for a $120 mil.

Robert 24 Jan 06

That John-Stewart remark made me think of a certain… owl

me 24 Jan 06

And those guys over at the big act are trying to help the little guy seem big — green grass!

brad 24 Jan 06

Well, it’s true: after this ad campaign is over, Microsoft will in fact be smaller: by $120 million to be exact.

Daniel Lindsley 24 Jan 06

I don’t like Microsoft any more than the next guy (actually, I like them a good deal less than the next guy). However, to totally dismiss them might just possibly be foolish. It’s roughly equivalent to saying “Wal*Mart is totally unimportant because their customer service is crap.” I hate to point this out but they are both behemoths that few people like but still have a big mindshare in business.

And how hard is it to create a knockoff of a competition’s innovative product? Not very and they receive the opportunity to correct mistakes and make a potentially better product (not that I’ve ever seen MS succeed at that).

MS has a lot of money and, where business is concerned, money talks. They may well succeed in the areas they care about (and I bet they’re not concerned about Joe User who doesn’t really understand just how big MS is anyway).

I don’t like MS, I support the little(r) guys but dismissing a company just because they are huge and trying to improve their image is a little scary. If they’ve got a cool $120 million to blow on marketing, they’ve got more than enough money to at least attempt to roll over small companies.

And now the (weak attempt at a) joke: “The day MS is viewed as small is the day we see Ruby On Rails.NET.”

Ryan 24 Jan 06

I didn’t realize that Karl Rove worked for Microsoft too. Heckuva guy. ;)

Anonymouse 24 Jan 06

That will probably not make them look small, but it will probably make us hate the idea of “small” and like “big” much more, which is a much better strategy if you ask me.

Josh 24 Jan 06

Hey, I want to get a “big” image. Perhaps Microsoft can work out a trade with me. I think 120,000,000 ought to make a big enough image.

gwg 24 Jan 06

This is one of the best post titles to date. The message is good and the irony is there, but the post title is well-written.

Dave M 24 Jan 06

Come on, everybody. Don’t you see that F*CKING GINORMOUS is the new small?

Eric 24 Jan 06

Too funny… Hopefully the average consumer will also notice the irony. All they really need to do to appear small is come up with better support and let us talk to people when we have problems.

Farhan Lalji 24 Jan 06

I don’t agree with spending 120M on a campaign to convince people that you’re something you’re not. However, if they’re working like they small, building things with an entrepreneurial spirit than good for them. No one will believe they’re small, what they might buy is that they don’t act like other big American companies. Good luck with that.

Pete 24 Jan 06

I thought Microsoft were organised as a whole bunch of little company type units that function almost independently (such as the Windows group, Xbox group, Office group, etc)?

Sure they have tons of money to throw around, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are organised and work as one giant company.

street 24 Jan 06

Chump change.. It would take a lot more than $120M to convince the ladies that I’m small.

gbx 24 Jan 06


Don Wilson 24 Jan 06

Is it another thing that Microsoft is copying from 37signals?

Hank 24 Jan 06

Criticize and ridicule MSFT all you like.

I submit MSFT makes better business and investment decisions than most.

Art Garf 24 Jan 06

120 can by you a Country…

Small Detail 24 Jan 06

If you talking about the host of “The Daily Show,” then you spelled his name wrong. His first name is spelled “Jon” not “John.”

Vance 24 Jan 06

Hank: Your submission is rejected with a chuckle.

Let the criticism and ridicule continue!

vinny7 24 Jan 06

I think it’s fun to mock a company with dozens of millions, no wait, that’s billions, in the bank. they are sooo dumb. hahahahha.

pride. fall. before.

… just saying.

Dan Robbins 24 Jan 06

Instead of blowing 120m on marketing, why not give away 120m worth of upgrades to Vista, MSFT’s next release of Windows.

Now that would be interesting! Get focused back on the product, not talking about the product.

Mathew Patterson 24 Jan 06

Something in a similar vein that does work (for me at least) is HSBCs campaign as ‘the world’s local bank’. (HSBC being a massive conglomerate financial institution). They run amusing print ads in airports particularly riffing on the importance of local knowledge.

I think it works for them, maybe MS could have some success too.

pwb 24 Jan 06


“I submit MSFT makes better business and investment decisions than most.”

That not saying a whole lot. I submit that the bulk of Microsoft’s success originates from DOS luck.

Dan 24 Jan 06

Speaking as a person who grew up and was raised in Redmond, I can attest to the fact that, yes, 120 million dollars is in fact a lot of money.

Ruben 24 Jan 06

what a waste of freaking money. They could spend that on making people think there Macrosoft isn’t so big, or they could split up their business into lots of small businesses.


Dan Boland 24 Jan 06

Imagine all the good that money could do.

Matt Todd 24 Jan 06

I believe that they meant to say that they were trying to localize themselves and to have smaller companies and individuals see them as a company, though large, as connected to the community, close-knit, and interactive with their lives instead of large and distant.

Not that I think they can succeed, but I believe credit should be given to proper wording.


Anonymous Coward 24 Jan 06

Well in fact spending 120 million is bigger then some countrys.

Country GDP (in million USD)
Palau 127
Marshall Islands 108
Kiribati 62
S�o Tom� and Pr�ncipe 62

That is just wrong.


scott brooks 24 Jan 06

Well in fact spending 120 million is bigger then some countrys.

Country GDP (in million USD)
Palau 127
Marshall Islands 108
Kiribati 62
S�o Tom� and Pr�ncipe 62

That is just wrong.


Mathew Patterson 24 Jan 06

Well in fact spending 120 million is bigger then some countrys.

Someone always makes this comparison, and it is almost always pointless…why do you think the US has a much bigger GDP? Could it be the MS is contributing a big old chunk of it?

James 24 Jan 06

I concur, Microsoft never does anything with their money. Shame on them for trying a new strategy.

MikeDeH 24 Jan 06

I think some people are missing the point. The criticism is that Microsoft is spending 120 million to convince people they are a small company. The fact that they are spending more money than most companies make in a year is the ironic part. It would be just as ridiculous if GM or GE did the same thing! Keep in mind;

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” — Robert Frost

So sit back, relax and consider yourself educated.

Clark 24 Jan 06

Spending $120 million to change peoples perception of a software company, unbelievable. That could fund allot of start-ups in the developing world or even feed allot of kids who don’t get to eat everyday.

Hassan Hodges 24 Jan 06

When you think about the MSFT name though, they’ve been trying to look small for years: Micro. Perhaps it’s time that 37Signals took a cue from MSFT and tried to look a little smaller too. Can’t we just trim the bloat down to 18 and a half signals or so.

RyanA 24 Jan 06

About the money being ‘better well spent’, from wikipedia’s article on Bill Gates:

“According to a 2004 Forbes magazine article, Gates gave away over $28.4 billion to charities from 2000 onwards.”

I’m not sure if that’s a US Billion or a Rest-Of-The-World Billion (someone please clear this up!), but that’s not too bad considering the marketing budget, is it?

Tom M 24 Jan 06

Ryan: That would be an English-speaking billion, as used by the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K, etc.

I.E. 1,000,000,000.

Baz S 25 Jan 06

RyanA, I agree. I’m no fan of M$ but Bill Gates is doing the right thing with his money fair play to him.
As my countryman Andrew Carnegie said “to die rich is to die disgraced”
Of course Bill could bankrupt his company and get rid of his money that way, just for a laugh, that would be the kind of publicity money just can’t buy :-)

Chris 25 Jan 06

TOM M - Actually a UK million is a million million (with 12 zeros).

And while we’re on the subject of unfinished jokes:

Chris 25 Jan 06

TOM M - Actually a UK billion is a million million (with 12 zeros).

And while we’re on the subject of unfinished jokes:

John Topley 25 Jan 06

“When you think about the MSFT name though, they�ve been trying to look small for years: Micro. “

Microsoft’s name comes from the fact that they started out making software for microcomputers.

wdk 25 Jan 06

Sorry man.

I’m trying to imagine you saying a Jon-Stewart-style “really,” but I can’t get past the theme song. That’s such a catchy tune.

Wezee 25 Jan 06

If that’s the case…perhaps they won’t mind dividing that $120mil with us!

Wezee 25 Jan 06

Also, if they expect people to believe they’re small…then what exactly is BIG?

Darrel 25 Jan 06

While we can laugh at the irony of this, we all know that this is no big deal. Afterall, MS isn’t a software company. It’s a marketing company. They didn’t get this big by writing great software.

Sam 25 Jan 06

I don’t know what I was thinking, but actually read the article (and no, not the one, the original one) and I call bullsh*t. They’re not trying to say they’re “small” at all. The message is that they’re spread out all over the world rather than just monolithically at Redmond… that’s quite a different argument, and sorry folks, but it’s true.

but then again, it *is* a post from David, sorry, let me join in: M$oft sucks, etc.

lostsurfer 25 Jan 06

Sorry folks, 120Million ? it’s a computer error. They must be using their own software.

Ash Buckles 25 Jan 06

Does this count as micro-marketing? If they spend $120 million in small ways? I’m small, and so is Noah Winecoff (above), they can buy us. I’m game. Microsoft is loosing fast and this is a desperate attempt to drop their anchors everywhere they can. I use MS products, and used to live in Redmond, and used to like MS. Now I just put up with them.